The Biz: WNC business briefs

Asheville Chamber Legislative Luncheon Friday, Feb. 20: With the economy down the drain, local businesses are seeking all the help they can get from the state Legislature. The Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual Legislative Luncheon Friday, Feb. 20, to brief members on a state-government wish list compiled by the Chamber’s Governmental Affairs Task Force. Members of Western North Carolina’s legislative delegation will also be on hand to discuss the prospects for more assistance from Raleigh.

The luncheon, which costs $20 per person, takes place from noon to 1:30 p.m. at The Crest Center and Pavilion (30 Ben Lippen School Road in West Asheville). Visit www.ashevillechamber.org for more information.

Prospering In 2009 Conference Feb. 23: At a time when many businesses and entrepreneurs are struggling to get by, a local conference will highlight ways to get ahead. On Monday, Feb. 23, Blue Ridge Community College in Flat Rock will host the Prospering 2009 Conference for Small Business, a summit of experts who’ll discuss strategies for four commercial sectors that loom large in WNC: accommodations, crafts, culinary/restaurant and retail.

Registration is required; to save your spot, e-mail g_heisey@blueridge.edu or call 694-1779.

“We’re For Business” Awards Lunch Feb. 24: The Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce’s third annual We’re For Business awards luncheon will pay tribute to local businesses that have succeeded through successful team-building. Presented by Wachovia Bank, the event will be held Tuesday, Feb. 24, at the Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

According to a Chamber news release, the awards will include: the “Over the Top amazing customer-service award,” presented by First Citizens Bank; the “One for All outstanding commitment to community award,” presented by McDonald’s; the “Out on a Limb exceptionally innovative business award,” presented by George’s Stor-Mor; and the “Go Green award,” presented by Forest Commercial Bank.

The lunch and ceremony cost $30 for Chamber members, $35 for nonmembers. Register at www.ashevillechamber.org or by calling 258-6117.

Green Collar Jobs Class At A-B Tech: A-B Tech’s Global Institute for Sustainability Technologies has added a new class on enviro-careers. The green-collar-jobs course will take place Saturday, March 14, from 9 a.m. to noon in 209 Haynes on the college’s Enka campus. The class will survey the kinds of skills and education needed to take advantage of rapid growth in assorted green-business sectors, such as alternative energy and fuels, organic food and clothing, green building, recycling and waste management. The fee for the course is $20; register at www.abtech.edu/ce/registration/.

Asheville Solicits Community Projects For Federal Stimulus Funds: With the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, aka Washington’s massive economic-stimulus bill, Asheville will number among the many cities nationwide angling to reel in some federal funds. Now city government is seeking public input on which potential community projects most deserve a financial shot in the arm.

In a recent press release, the city manager’s office announced that it’s building a portfolio of proposed local initiatives “in an effort to demonstrate the community’s capacity to effectively use recovery funds.” (To view the portfolio as it’s being built, go to www.ashevillenc.gov/economicrecovery.)

The federal funds target certain areas, the release notes, including “public infrastructure projects (roads, bridges, mass transit, water and wastewater facilities, digital infrastructure etc.), renewable energy, weatherization, health and human services, and education.” The overall emphasis is on supporting projects that can start quickly and create the maximum number of jobs.

Anyone can submit a community-project proposal form for consideration by city government; City Council will make the final call on which projects to propose for federal funding. To obtain a form, e-mail economicrecovery@ashevillenc.gov. Proposals should include the following information: a description of the project or infrastructure investment and its purpose; the total cost and an estimate of how many jobs it will create; a project schedule; an explanation of how the project will achieve the recovery legislation’s goals; and contact information for the proposing agency.

There’s no firm deadline for proposals, but city leaders suggest getting them in quickly, given the urgency of the situation and the dictates of the legislation.

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About Jon Elliston
An Asheville-based mountain journalist: Former Mountain Xpress managing editor. Investigations and open government editor at Carolina Public Press. Senior contributing editor at WNC magazine.

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